Jana Bennett, the former president and CEO of the History Channel, has died. She was 66 years old.
Bennett, who had at one point been the BBC’s chief executive, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2019. In the United States, she also served as Discovery GM.
“All of us at A+E Networks deeply mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Jana Bennett,” Paul Buccieri, chairman and president of A+E Networks, told TheWrap in a statement. “Jana has had an extraordinary career in media and her contributions to the A+E Networks family are too huge to count. She was a groundbreaking, groundbreaking, generous and beautiful person. She will be missed terribly by all of us, especially me. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
“Jana Bennett was one of the most talented television producers of her generation and a tremendous champion of public service broadcasting,” BBC chief executive Tim Davie said in his own statement on Thursday. “She was a trailblazer who rose to the top of the industry, tirelessly championing upcoming talent, while having the foresight to bring television and digital services together. She was a brilliant and gifted colleague and that’s a great loss for the television industry.
Bennett succeeded Dirk Hoogstra as President and CEO of History Channel in 2015, overseeing all strategic planning, programming, marketing and brand development for History and H2 from New York. She stepped down in May 2017, handing over control to senior vice president of programming Paul Cabana.
“This spring Jana came to me and said she wanted to split her time between London and New York and start a new business aimed at creating the best in UK and US content for both markets,” Nancy said. Dubuc, CEO of A+E. at the time of his departure.
Bennett came to this work internally, previously overseeing A+E’s FYI and LMN.
During her previous roles as Chairman of BBC Worldwide and Global BBC iPlayer, Bennett was responsible for 16 branded channels, in 100 countries, reaching 380 million subscriber households. Prior to this, Bennett ran BBC Television, where she was responsible for the BBC’s six UK free-to-air channels.
See Davie’s statement below via the BBC press office.